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Comcast Adds Regulatory Head

With the cable industry in the Federal Communications Commission’s cross hairs, the nation’s largest cable operator is bolstering its legal roster with the additional of a new regulatory chief.

Comcast named Kathryn Zachem its new vice president of regulatory affairs and senior VP of regulatory affairs for Comcast Cable Communications.

Based in Washington, D.C., Zachem will head up the company’s regulatory efforts and will report directly to executive VP David Cohen. She will join the company Feb. 1.

"Kathy has a terrific background with broad federal and state regulatory experience,” Cohen said in a statement. “She will be an outstanding leader of our strong regulatory-affairs team and a fantastic addition to our Washington office. We are excited to have such a well-respected telecommunications authority joining the company."

Zachem will join the company from Wilkinson Barker and Knauer, where she was a partner with extensive experience practicing communications law for 23 years.

The cable industry has been under fire in recent weeks. Last month, FCC chairman Kevin Martin launched a bid to prove that the cable industry breached the 70/70 threshold (70% household penetration/70% subscribers), which would open it up to new regulation. It was eventually dropped but caused significant backlash from the industry and lawmakers. However, a 30% cap on the number of subscribers a cable company can own has more solid support. Such regulation cuts closest to Comcast, which accounts for roughly 27% of the country’s pay TV subscribers.

Concerns of regulatory interference are one reason why cable stocks have been under pressure this year, and why Comcast is 40% off its 52-week high.